Several of our People Tree dresses are made by Thanapara Swallows Development Society (TSDS). Swallows is based in a rural clay-earthed village, Thanapara Swallows, on the banks of the Ganges River in north west Bangladesh.
Swallows was set up after the village was devastated in 1971, when all the adult males were massacred during the war of independence. These men were the wage earners in a society where women stayed at home to cook, clean and look after the family. After this terrible atrocity, the women had to take on this role as well as all their other tasks.
Swallows is a women's project, where even hand weaving, which is considered men's work, is done by women. The natural and azo-free dyed yarns are hand woven into fabrics, then hand embellished with embroidery and tailored, providing work for over 200 women.
Profits from Fair Trade help cover the running costs of the Swallows school for 320 children. People Tree started a daycare centre for 60 babies and toddlers in 2007.
A child learning at the school in Swallows
Mrs Gini Ali, Assistant Director at Swallows, feels that discrimination and lack of opportunity for women in Bangladesh are the biggest barriers to improving living conditions there. She says:
"The Fair Trade principles applied by People Tree have created economic stability for Swallows, allowing it to become an independent organisation, this has led to the empowerment of the women of Thanapara."